The Harper Government expressed its continued commitment to driving podium performances, and ultimately, a healthier country, well into the future by announcing increased support for the development of Canada’s next generation of Olympic and Paralympic medallists. Beginning in 2016-17, the Government of Canada will match up to $20 million over four years of private sector investment to support the next generation of athletes who are five-to-eight years away from potentially medalling at an Olympic or Paralympic Games. The funding will be used to support additional coaches, improve the daily training environment while delivering sport medicine and sport science services to those podium potential athletes.
“The Government of Canada continues to lead the way in creating a new culture for winning, which Canada’s athletes and coaches fully support,” said Anne Merklinger, chief executive officer, Own the Podium. “Building depth is critical to mounting an attack on any podium, and this commitment is a critical step forward to ensuring Canada’s goal to find and develop Olympic and Paralympic champions in every corner of the country.”
Since coming to office, the Harper Government has transcended many of Canada’s sport programs, ensuring athletes are provided with the support they need to reach the podium at every opportunity possible – be it through a record investment in high performance sport, direct support to athletes and national sport organizations, or through hosting of major international sporting events. This new investment will now provide additional support to the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians.
“Thanks to the Federal Government’s investment in Own the Podium, Canada’s luge team has developed from participants content with wearing the jacket into a group of individuals now recognized as one of the top nations in the world who are focused solely on the podium,” said Alex Gough, Canada’s most accomplished luge athlete who has captured multiple World Championship and World Cup medals since receiving funding from Own the Podium. “From camp funding and staff support, to the research, testing and innovation, OTP funding ensures we have the optimal conditions to develop and excel.”
Led by 10-time Paralympic champion in cross-country skiing, Brian McKeever, Canada’s Paralympic athletes achieved their goal of a top-three performance in the overall gold-medal count at the 2014 Games with a new-look group of young Canadian athletes. With the rest of the world not standing still, Canada recognizes the need to increase the pool of talent across all Olympic and Paralympic sports.
“It is simple, without the support from the Government of Canada through Own the Podium, our program would not be where it is at today,” said McKeever, who added that Canada’s Para-Nordic Team celebrated six medals in Sochi including four gold – three of his own – one silver and one bronze. “In 2014, we welcomed our next generation of medal performers at the Paralympics with athletes like Mac Marcoux (Para-Alpine) and Mark Arendz (Para-Nordic). “Medals drive participation, but money is required to develop those podium performances. The Federal Government understands this, and this investment is critical to finding more of these young athletes.”
The Government of Canada’s leading financial investment in high performance sport has been critical to the success of Canada’s athletes’ pursuit of the Olympic and Paralympic podiums.